I've been a New York Mets fan since I was a wee lad growing up on Long Island. My dad used to take me and a half-dozen friends for my birthday every year; we'd pile into the car, and battle traffic through Queens to the game.
Being a Mets fan has often been a painful process; for most of the 1990s they were horrible, and since 2000 they haven't been very good either.
Until this year.
When I lived in Manhattan in the 1990s, I used to go to about a dozen games a year, taking the subway out. Often I brought my glove, even as an adult chasing the elusive dream of catching a foul ball. I never did, though I was with two people who were able to snag balls (one happily tearing out the knees of his suit pants in the process).
I did catch an overthrow during pre-game infield practice, an old, scuffed ball; it doesn't really count, but somehow it still does, because one can imagine the game life the ball might have had before it was retired to fielding drills.
(I just picked it up, and squeezed it. As someone who used to play a lot of softball, I'm always surprised how small baseballs are).
I was at the playoff game in 1973 when Pete Rose and Buddy Harrelson got into the fight on the field, and where Rose was showered with debris when he trotted out to left field for the bottom of the inning. The ticket stub is framed on my wall.
I also remember the game, years later, when Rose hit three home runs in one game against the Mets -- an amazing feat for a non-power hitter in a tough ballpark to hit home runs in.
It's tough being a Mets fan in Los Angeles, because unless they are playing the Dodgers or the Braves (on superstation TBS) there just aren't many games on TV; maybe a random Wednesday night or Sunday night game here and there.
The Internet is a godsend, because there are several sites that do live pitch-by-pitch descriptions of games, which are particularly handy because I can do some work, and click over every few minutes and see what I missed.
Anyhow, the playoffs start this week, and the Mets are playing the Dodgers, which always seems appropriate, with the Mets created after the Dodgers and Giants fled to the West Coast in the late 1950s. In fact, the Mets' colors, blue and orange, are in tribute to the Dodgers blue and the Giants' orange.
I only went to one Mets game this year, and ironically it was the only game they lost (out of three they played) at Dodgers Stadium. For you Dodgers fans, it was the only game that Eric Gagne saved all season, and he looked great. Unfortunately, he was still hurting, and never pitched again all year.
I've become something of a Dodgers fan, but still the blue I bleed is Mets' blue. The Mets have finally put together a team of young players, crafty veterans, and even (rare for the Mets) an actual player (Carlos Beltran) who is in his prime. The Mets' starting pitching is a bit shaky (don't expect a lot of 1-0 games in this series), but their bullpen is strong, their bats have pop, and hell, it's just nice for the Mets to be playing in October.
And by all accounts they are good guys, who all get along well, and have been busting their butts all year. No divas, no whiners, just hard-working team guys. Can't beat that.
Delta Airlines even just named an airplane after amiable young third baseman David Wright.
So as I juggle reading work, and my rewrite, and my $60 notes offer (which I thought I had shut down but which continues to bring in scripts), and paying attention to my wife, and the premiere of Lost, there's the Mets. The Mets. The Mets.
So if you flip around the channels this week, and spot the game, hover for a second, and look at the green of the field, and how pitches defy logic and gravity to spin and rise over the plate.
And hopefully the Mets are in front.
And if anyone finds themselves with an extra Dodger Stadium ticket this weekend, give me a shout.